Counter Culture (Larissa’s Review)

Title: Counter Culture
Author: JL Merrow
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: November 4, 2019
Genre(s): Romance, Drama, Humor, Steampunk, Contemporary
Page Count: 320
Reviewed by: Larissa
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5


Customer service has never been this personal.

Robin Christopher, beleaguered retail worker, isn’t having an easy November. His boss is raising stress levels planning a Black Friday to end all Black Fridays, his family doesn’t understand him, and his best friend thinks his new crush is a hallucination brought on by watching too many episodes of Doctor Who.

Archie Levine dresses in Victorian style and divides his time between caring for his young son and creating weird and wacky steampunk gadgets from bits of old junk—when he’s not looking after his mum and trying to keep on good terms with his ex. The last thing he’s got time for is a relationship, but the flustered young man he met while disembowelling a fridge is proving very tempting.

When his mum’s social conscience is roused by a local store with a cavalier attitude to the homeless, former rough sleeper Archie shares her anger. Little does he know that Robin works for that same store. When Archie finds out he’s sleeping with the enemy, things could cut up very rough indeed.

Word count: 91,000; page count: 344

With Counter Culture JL Merrow has done it again. A quirky story that is both funny, romantic, serious and well, an awesome story. All in JL’s style that we love so well. I’ve been a fan of this author for a long time now and I absolutely adore her Plumber’s Mate series, though now Robin and Archie may have to share with Tom and Phil.

Counter Culture is an uncommon common story that focuses on Robin, a stressed out shop worker and Archie or refrigerator guy, who is not only a new dad, but also a bit obsessed with Steampunk. They meet under unlikely circumstances and then when they meet again, mayhem and misunderstandings ensues. Both funny and serious.

The author always manages to make common, every day characters with regular jobs special and that is no different with Robin and Archie and the host of support cast. Though I have to say that I found Robin’s best friend quite annoying. Apart from this, the story also carries quite the message(s) about current society, wealth, homelessness and judging at first glance.

Counter Culture is one of those stories you just have to read to understand why it’s so good. It’s well written, with JL’s flowing style of writing and characters that have their own voice in the story. The story is interspersed with the author’s unique style of humour and silliness. The only thing that bothered me a bit was the length. While I do enjoy a nice long story with characters I really like, it did think the story was drawn out a bit. Note, though, that is the first part of an ongoing story. There is more to come.

Overall though I really liked Counter Culture and readers who enjoy a good (British) contemporary story with down to earth (but unique) characters and a but if steampunkculture will definitely like this story as well.

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Advanced Review Copy

Galley copy of Counter Culture provided by the publisher in exchange of an honest review.

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